The Auckland Regional Paragliding Competition went off successfully with 27 pilots in total and two valid tasks.

From left to right...

* Jaroslav Tuma - second place overall
* Jeff Ripley - overall winner,
   Auckland Paragliding Champion
* Kinga Masztalerz - third place overall,
   Auckland Women's Paragliding Champion
   and Pumpkin Winner.
* Kyla MacDonald - joint Fun class winner
* Graham Surrey - joint Fun class winner

You can find the final scores here:


 The Auckland Club held a successful Hang Glider League at the Paeroas during the weekend of the 5th and 6th of March.


Day 1
Day 2


NZ Champ Reuben Muir
flanked by Jeff Ripley (2nd place)
& Women's Champ Eva Keim
The forecast for Saturday hadn’t looked promising, so some of the pilots hit the Nelson nightlife scene pretty hard on Friday night. Lucky for them, we were given a late start on Saturday, with a decision at 9:30 to head to Tapawera.

The stunning site with a low ridge along a wide valley has never been used before for a competition task. And today was not going to change that. The wind was too strong, so we were all wishing we’d brought our hang gliders along.

Ah well, that gave us time for a Saturday afternoon nap, a reserve re-pack seminar and to get ready for the prize giving dinner. The closing ceremony was a fabulous meal at The Honest Lawyer in Monaco, with Rob Boyle as MC. Now on to the winners!

PG Open Round 2 - Nelson Champions:

Harald Wilhelmi – overall
Claus Petry – sport class
Derek Divers – fun class
Kinga Masztalerz – women’s class

And the New Zealand National Champions for 2016:

Reuben Muir – overall and serial class winner
Grant Middendorf – sport class
Joe Ward – fun class
Eva Keim – women’s class

It might be fitting to toast our NZ champs with a GIN & tonic.

The Jill Borst trophy, awarded to a pilot who has made a significant contribution to the paragliding community, was jointly awarded to Nick Neynens and Louis Tapper for their stellar efforts at the 2015 Red Bull X-Alps (Nick as competitor, Louis as his supporter) and firmly putting NZ on the map as a flying destination for overseas pilots.

The Leo Geary award, which is awarded to a promising new pilot, generally flying for under 3 years, for performance in competitions, was awarded to Leighton Joll. Leighton has been licensed for under a year, and hasn't wasted any time kicking a** with his XC flying – he’s hit goal three times during the PG Open rounds this year.

The PB Trophy, introduced by the Tasman club this year, goes to the pilot who extends their NZ Personal Best in XC open distance flight by the greatest percentage. The inaugural award goes to Brian Erasmus, who also managed a podium place in the fun class in his first ever competition here in Nelson. 

Well done to all of you. Also well done to the rest of the pilots who stayed safe - no accidents!

Thanks to the organisers for a great comp - Nick Taber, Frog Twissell, and Peter Allison did a terrific job, supported by many others from the Tasman club.

You can find more photos on the Facebook page: PG Nationals 2016 Nelson 

Hope to see you all again next year!


Evan testing the waters. Yep, perfect backwind.
Friday we made a late start at Takaka, briefing on the hill at 13:00. Conditions looked lovely, if a little stable. The streamers were coming up the face beautifully.

Task was set from Takaka to Waitui Spur in the valley, back to take-off, in to Bush Knob, up to East Takaka and back to Takaka bomb-out.

Always keen to get off, Hamish Barker launched as soon as the window opened. He didn’t make it look terribly exciting, but was staying up. Mark Hardman rigged up, and was in the air pretty quickly behind Hamish, but had to wait for the right moment to launch as the sea breeze was starting to come in over the back. The queue on launch started growing, and there was more waiting as the wind was coming more regularly over the back.

Mark and Hamish were having a tremendous flight, but the rest of the pilots on launch were just heating up in all our gear, waiting for a decent cycle to come up the face. Gradually pilots at the back of the queue realised they weren’t going to get away anytime soon, so de-rigged.

As we stood on launch feeling a solid breeze on the back of our necks, we watched as Mark and Hamish flew past on their way up to the last turnpoint at East Takaka, then heard them call in as they made it to goal. Meanwhile, launch was closed so we couldn't get any other pilots off. So…the Task Committee set a good course, even if it’s not a valid task.

On the way back in to Nelson, we stopped at the Takaka SE launch, with lots of pilots having a stunning glide down to the valley. Then off to the Sprig & Fern for a free barbie to end another great day.

Results: Highcloud PG Open Nelson Results


Upper Takaka Valley
from Kris Ericksen's viewpoint
Wow, day 6 already…and we’ve flown every day we’ve been here!

Thursday was another Takaka day, with a nice SW, and the sea breeze expected to join us in the afternoon.

The 32km course had us fly from Takaka Hill to Hail Knob, out to Waitui Spur, in to Takaka launch, back to Bush Knob, up to East Takaka then riding the sea breeze back in to Takaka bombout.

We discovered that ridge soaring was the way to get ahead in this race. It felt a bit like a Karioitahi Beach run, so the Aucklanders were quite at home with the conditions. Lots of fun.

The sea breeze did come in with a bang, flushing many pilots to the ground just north of Upper Takaka. At just after 14:00, the task was stopped due to the strong wind in the valley.

Abe Laguna is the winner of the day, with 31.93km on task.

Abe Laguna's track log for the Task
On the entertaining side of things we also had an exciting evening, with the Magical Mystery Tour. The Tasman club had organised a sponsorship from Burger King, who donated 100 burgers. We may have broken another record – number of burgers a gaggle of pilots can wolf down in under 10 minutes.

After that excitement, Claus Petry put on a truly awesome aerobatic show with his single-seater plane. Wow – everyone was very impressed.


After another great barbie prepared by Tony Dickison at the Boat House (what a view!), a couple of our sponsors came for a show and tell on Tuesday night. No one complains when Scott McCashin of Stoke Brewery wants to share his craft beer with us, nor when Gelato Roma plies us with gelato – anyone for a fourth serving?
Tony obviously serious about foodGuaranteed to be talking sh*t about flying
Nicely ballasted up, Mt Murchison beckoned us on Wednesday morning.

The wind was a gentle SW, and we knew we could expect a sea breeze to come in later in the day. Task was set to Howard Valley Rd with a 4km cylinder, then way up to Argyle Rd Jnc (10km) with end of speed and goal back at Tophouse.

Russell Read was the only pilot in goal, with the majority of the field getting flushed by the sea breeze on the way through St Arnaud. We had just the right amount of heart-stopping excitement with several pilots getting very low, basically kicking treetops; but everyone managed to avoid the trees.

We should have a few more NZ Personal Bests to talk about too.

Someone get this man a beer!


Nelson Mail continues its coverage of the PG Open.

Link to Nelson Mail article


Are those 'go-faster'
stripes on your
harness, Louis?
The weather has been really hard to pick these last few days.

Saturday, the first day of the comp, should have been a rainy blowout, but we got a task. Today, Tuesday, was supposed to be the cream on top. However at the 8am briefing this morning there were some reservations about the flying possibilities.

The team headed to Havelock for the best chance at a task. The task was set to Canvastown after a bit of bopping around the Havelock valley, but with provisional start times so we could gauge what was up. There was a lot of cloud cover and a bit more south in the wind than we wanted to see.

Pilots spent some time clearing up a few twigs and pricklies on launch, but by 13:30 it was clear that the conditions weren’t improving enough for us to get into task-mode.

There's only so much parawaiting time you can spend teasing your mates for landing in cow patties, so we needed a plan B.

A decision was made to head back to Nelson and give Barnicoat a go. By the time we arrived it was quite late in the day, and the Task Committee opted for a spot-landing contest. A handful of pilots got in the air, but the wind pretty quickly turned south (more like east, actually), preventing the rest of the field from launching.

Sounds like they were the lucky ones though, as it got somewhat funky in the air and on landing. 

No worries - bbq is on tonight. Let's eat.

Results: Highcloud PG Open Nelson Results


Another blurb in the Nelson Mail.

Link to Nelson Mail article


Itai talking us through bridles & nappies
Those pesky strong high level winds were still keeping us out of the mountains on Monday.

The Task Committee was toying with options like Takaka or Barnicoat, but unsure whether the forecast could be believed.

A call at the 8am briefing was made to delay a decision until 10:30.

Luckily the organisers had catered for just this sort of fickle weather occurrence, and had arranged for Itai to give a talk on reserves. It proved quite popular and hopefully useful. The key message was that instead of carefully packing our reserves, we should just pop them in a plastic shopping bag with a rock. 

Just kidding, of course (what would you do with the rock, anyway?). The point is, it’s well worth understanding how your emergency reserve system works, what sorts of attributes you should be looking for in your gear and how it’s all connected and packed.

At 10:30 the Task Committee piped up with the message that we better hit the road. To Takaka, everyone!

The wind was so strong when we arrived at the hill that we could hardly stand up. It felt pretty sweet in the lee behind the trees at the back of launch though, so a few pilots napped in the sun. The Task Committee has a lot of faith, and they demanded patience from us.

Harald Wilhelmi's track log for Monday's Task
Eventually the 28km task was briefed: Takaka to Bush Knob, over to Waitui Spur then Point 704 and East Takaka and finally Lindsay Bridge for goal. Then we waited a little more to consider the start time, since the wind was still strong.

We all became believers when the wind did eventually drop, and the time of 15:25 was set for the Start. 

Launch cleared pretty quickly after Mark Hardman and Louis Tapper got in the air and showed it was going up. 

The sea breeze pushing in from the north and east, mixing with the prevailing westerly, created conditions that were a little funky in areas. A couple of pilots called safety alerts and some chose to land, but others found it pleasant flying. 

Harald Wilhelmi, one of our visiting pilots from Germany, was the task winner, making it to goal in 57 minutes.

Great work from the Task Committee, pulling a task out of a day that looked like a blowout.

And hey, does anyone have a couple of maillons for me? I think I need to re-fit my reserve.


Round 2 of the PG-Open gets some more media attention.

Link to Nelson Mail article